Today should have been the first match in the Sensas CIPS League, but unfortunately due to 4 teams pulling out at the last minute, the league was cancelled. As everything was booked and most of us had already had our bloodworm and joker ordered with Sam, it was decided the match would be run as an open.

Barston has been fishing brilliantly, 2 weeks ago I fished a pole only match here and Grant Albutt won it with 100lb of F1s on corn from end peg 124. That day the water was really warm for the time of the year, 9 degrees and a strong south westerly saw the it fish the best I have ever seen it.

My draw for the day was peg 92 on the roadside, its not a peg I would have chosen, the pegs to my left are shallow and over the years this hasn't been a good area while the pegs to my right get better as you go towards peg 100, but 92 was an end peg on the day, so thats always an advantage. Along the roadside of Barston you have 2 car parking areas, pleasure anglers park their cars and fish as near as possible to them, just like I would do when practicing on the venue, so it doesn't take long for the bream and skimmers to work out which swims see regular food for them and they visit these areas more often than a lot of other areas of the lake.

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When the 10 minute pre baiting started, the first thing I did was to cup in 3 balls of ground bait on my 5m line and loose feed a few casters over the top. On my 13m line I threw about 10 balls of Sensas lake and leam which had joker and dead red maggots in them, I also catapulted some corn on the waggler line, about 18m, as part of my plan was to try and catch some bigger fish on it, when Grant caught his 100lb he fished a 16m pole with corn, CIPS rules have a 13m limit, so I thought this might give me an advantage, but this was proved to be a wrong move and this may have cost me a bigger weight.

At the all in I picked up my top 5 roach rig and immediately started to catch roach of a reasonable stamp, the plan was to let the 13m line settle while I caught some early roach. On my right was Darren Bickerton, he took a far more simpler approach and just fished and fed a 13m line, it wasn't long before he was catching skimmers, I stuck to my plan and as I was catching, I was happy, after about 30 mins the roach started to get smaller and Darren was still catching skimmers, so I decided to switch to my 13m line.

First drop in I caught a roach, followed by another, not the start I was hoping for, especially as Darren was still catching skimmers, it was nearly an hour before I caught my first skimmer and then for the next 2 hours Darren and I caught fish for fish, the battle caught the attention of more than a few anglers walking around the lake, as they stopped and watched, Barston really is a great venue.

During these 2 hours I got a bit frustrated at times as I felt I was always playing catch up and couldn't do anything to improve my catch rate over his, in fact eagerness to feed caused me a few foul hookers, probably because there was too much bait in the swim, however going into the last hour Darren started to slow up and I carried on catching and I started to get a better stamp of skimmer. In the last 5 minutes I hooked and lost 2 foul hooked skimmers and at the whistle I thought that it was going to be close, all the time I was having to play catch up, but deep down I don't think I had done quite enough.

When the scales arrived, we were the last 2 to weigh in, Jordan Holloway was top with 50lb exactly, when Darren weighed he had 50lb 10oz and I then weighed 50lb 4oz sooo close. It was a really great battle. Darren had just got his first ever pair of glasses the night before, old age had finally caught up with him, and he was having a few problems with 'misting up', all he could see was his float, he didn't even know I was catching, but they obviously did the trick, perhaps he should have got them a few years earlier, lol.

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On reflection, perhaps I should have just fished the one 13m line and feeding of the corn throughout the match could only have prevented fish from coming onto my pole line. The foul hooking was probably caused by too much bait in the swim, that was me trying to force the catch rate as I was always playing catch up, had it been a five hour match and not four, I think I would have. Darren is a really good angler and he is never easy to beat on the next peg.

Ed Warren won the match with 73lb, well done mate, Baz Bright was second and Darren was third, I was first out of the main money but got he section by default. It was nice to see a young lad called Jordan Holloway do so well in my section, his 50lb was only 10oz off the main money, keep it up mate.

I hope this Sensas league goes ahead for next year, the standard of angling is as high as anywhere in the country, there will have to be a few changes, Mark Downes has proposed a thing or two, we will see!!

I felt sorry for 2 anglers in my section, a couple of anglers came and set up their carp fishing tackle in the vacant peg between them, they were waiting for the match to finish so they could fish the night, both anglers in the match struggled and caught next to nothing why they were there.

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Barston Lakes has been a great venue this year, its probably fishing better than it has ever done, I have been fishing matches here for over 10 years and I have seen the weights gradually getting better and better. Nigel, who owns Barston, has worked really hard over this time and all that hard work has turned it into one of the top fisheries in the country.